Martin Center for Dance opens in Lawrence

The new Martin Center for Dance opens in Lawrence Township.

The new Martin Center for Dance, located on Princess Road in Lawrence Township, opened this past week.

Douglas Martin and Mary Barton, will be joined by Mary Pat Robertson, a long-time artistic collaborator, as will master teachers Maria Youskevitch and Kirk Peterson.

All experienced teachers and choreographers, the team will offer positive, high energy classes for all levels and all ages, from early childhood through adult, with a strong emphasis on personal growth and safe training techniques. Each is a master teacher of ballet technique to professionals and professionally-oriented youth, and also a warm and inspirational coach for those new to ballet looking to enjoy this art form as audience members and recreational participants.

Classes will be offered throughout the daytime and evening, and will include exercise and movement classes as well as ballet.

Martin and Barton moved to New Jersey in 1995, after international careers as principal dancers with the Joffrey Ballet. They were invited by then Artistic Director Septime Webre to join American Repertory Ballet as principal dancers, dancing such roles as “Romeo and Juliet,” the Swan Queen and her Prince, the young lovers in “Our Town,” and many others. They also became an integral part of the
Princeton Ballet School faculty, led at that time by Robertson.

From 2010 until recently, Martin was Artistic Director of ARB. During those nine years, he and Barton choreographed the majority of the company’s repertory. Martin’s critically acclaimed works including full-length versions of “Pride and Prejudice,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a new “Nutcracker,” and a 1960s “Rite of Spring.”

Barton, who had been a ballerina with Dayton Ballet before joining the Joffrey Ballet, was honored early in her career to be chosen by Robert Joffrey as the first Clara in his “Nutcracker” production. A prolific choreographer, she has choreographed over 40 ballets. Barton has also been on the dance faculty at Princeton University and Rider University.

Robertson came to the Princeton area in 1980 and has been a force in dance education and production ever since. She choreographed over 50 works for Teamwork Dance, which she founded in 1981.

A Choreographic Fellowship recipient of the NJSCA, she was also commissioned by Opera Festival of NJ and Opera NJ to choreograph dances for over a dozen operas. She was the director of Princeton Ballet School for 30 years, during which time she nurtured generations of dancers and teachers; created the school’s syllabus; managed its moves to the Princeton Shopping Center and Main Street, Cranbury; and greatly expanded enrollment and summer programs, for which accomplishments she was cited by the US Congress.

During their tenure as directors, Robertson and Martin created the post-high school trainee program. Throughout a decade of successful partnerships with Italian conservatories, they and Barton held workshops and auditions for this program throughout Italy and helped many young dancers come to the US to study with them.

Robertson retired from the directorship in 2016, and has recently returned from a year of dancing and choreographing in London.

Master teachers Youskevitch and Peterson have worked with this team for over 20 years, choreographing new works and staging classics, Mr. Peterson has choreographed and staged over 50 ballets worldwide. They said they look forward to contributing their expertise to the new project.

The Martin Center for Dance will be located on Princess Road in Lawrence, within easy range of Route 1, Princeton Pike, Route 206, and Route 295.

There will be two dance spaces—the Princess Studio for younger dancers, and the Warehouse Studio, a much larger dance space for more advanced dancers’
classes and rehearsals, which will also serve as a black box space for performances.

The studio’s soft opening will be in December, with a full schedule of classes for all ages and levels to start in January. For information, please view the website: or call 609 937-8878.